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A two-year BMX career ends with gold for Chausson

A two-year BMX career ends with gold for Chausson

For a long time, Anne-Caroline Chausson resisted BMX. She was basically retired, after dominating downhill mountain-biking for a decade and with 13 world championship titles to her name.
"I was happy in my preretirement," the Frenchwoman said. "But my family and friends pushed me. An Olympic adventure is tempting. They said you can't have the potential and not go for it. They convinced me."
That was two years ago. On Friday, Chausson took the gold medal in the first-ever Olympic BMX competition. And that, she insists, is the end of her short-lived BMX career.
Chausson won the competition ahead of her compatriot Laetitia Le Corguille, with Jill Kintner of the United States taking bronze. The world champion and pre-race favorite Shanaze Reade crashed on the final bend as she tried to overtake Chausson.
It was a big switch from downhill mountain-biking _ which is not an Olympic event _ to BMX.
"There aren't a lot of similarities," Chausson said. "BMX is a sprint that lasts less than 40 seconds, downhill takes five minutes. I'm used to riding alone and choosing what I do, while BMX is a warrior sport and there are eight people sprinting. We don't know what the others are going to do.
"Psychologically it's very different, physically I had to invest a lot. For the first year it was complicated and then this year I've learned with every ride that I did."
It paid off for Chausson. She took the silver behind Reade in the world championships earlier this year and came into the event as one of the favorites.
And in the end the competition was something of a stroll for the 30-year-old. She qualified fastest in the time-trial stage and then won the first two runs of the three-round semifinal. In the third, she came in second, but even that appeared to be deliberate.
The fastest rider from the final run of the semifinal gets first choice of starting gate in the final. Chausson wanted that to be Reade so that she could choose her lane accordingly.
Everything seemed to go to plan. In the final, Chausson led almost the whole way round the course, with Reade in pursuit. On the final bend, Reade tried to slip inside the Frenchwoman and her front wheel touched Chausson's back wheel. Reade crashed to the floor and Chausson finished the race more than two seconds ahead of Le Corguille.
"It was two years of hard work and it's finished the best way possible," Chausson said, her medal around her neck.
Chausson's feat brought congratulations from the highest level in France.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a statement issued in the early hours of the morning, praised Chausson's "magnificent Olympic title" which, he said, she won with "a lot of brio."
Chausson insisted it was her final BMX race, although in tribute to her pre-BMX career she was hoping to ride the Olympic mountain biking course _ but not during competition.
The only mountain biking discipline in the Olympics is the cross-country, which will take place on Saturday after the women's event was rescheduled from Friday due to rain.


Updated : 2020-12-04 04:50 GMT+08:00